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Kure Beach Says Triathlon Will Not Be Permitted In 2013; Failed To Pay Final $240 Invoice

The Kure Beach Town Council voted at their September meeting to not permit the 16th Annual Kure Beach Triathlon due to an outstanding $240 invoice.

Managing Editor

KURE BEACH - The Kure Beach Town Council voted in August to require the organizers of the annual Kure Beach Triathlon to pay an outstanding balance to the Town as well as discuss event related fees prior to permitting the 2013 event. The organizers had to pay the remaining $240 owed to the Town by August 31. That payment never came and on September 18, the Council voted not to permit an event in 2013.
This year's event was held on June 2 marking the 15th year holding the event in Kure Beach.
In July the Council voted to send another invoice to the event organizers asking them to pay the remaining $240 balance to the Town for services such as police, fire and public works. The event organizers took issue with several items on the original bill.
Bill Scott - of Setup Events - wrote to event participants in an email, "We’re trying to salvage the Kure Beach Double Sprint Triathlon. This is an iconic event in the Inside-Out Sports NCTS. In 2012 we held the race for the sixteenth consecutive year. Kure Beach was the very first triathlon in the U.S. to offer up the unusual format; swim, run, bike, run, swim.  The race has capped out at 500 participants for the past ten years (we only had 480 in 2012)."
He explained, " This year, when all the planning was said and done, and with only two weeks to go before race day, we received an invoice from the town of Kure Beach for more than twice the amount of what we are normally charged for their services (park rental, police support, etc).  In reviewing the invoice it was very clear that there were some trumped up charges included. During the July Town Council meeting, I went before Council to dispute these charges and to let them know that they were out of line with anything we have paid in the past and also much higher than fees we pay in other communities in which we produce races."
He asked people in his letter to email the Town showing support for the event.
The Town received some 72 emails expressing support.
In a response to those emails the Town issued a statement, "The total fees that the Town of Kure Beach charged for this year's triathlon were $1,860.00. Mr. Scott [The event organizer] has not paid $240 of that bill. At the July Town Council meeting, Mr. Scott discussed with the Council his position that the Town was charging excessive fees for his event. He was directed to put in his application for next year's event, so that the Council could work with him on reaching agreement to prevent this issue from occurring again. Additionally, Council directed staff to re-invoice Set Up Events for the remaining $240. In 2010, the Town charged $2,250 for the event and in 2011, the Town charged $2,400."
At the Council's September 18, meeting Councilman Chuck Keener asked if the $240 had been paid. The Town finance officer said payment had not been received.
Keener said at the August 15, meeting the Council met with Mr. Scott and after lengthy discussion and debate voted to keep their fees the same and require the payment prior to considering approving a permit for the 2013 event.
Keener made a motion to deny the 2013 permit. Councilman David Heglar seconded that motion and the Council voted unanimously.
The Council said even if the $240 was paid at a later date, a permit would not be issued. Mayor Dean Lambeth stated, "No, he's missed his deadlines for everything."
Councilman David Heglar explained there are three options including not holding the event next year, find a charitable organization to lead a similar event or find a business to hold a similar event.
He questioned which option the Town wanted to consider.
Council member Emilie Swearingen said her son has participated in setting up such events for Set Up Events in other areas and, "It's a lot more complicated than just having a non-profit put on a race or even a business. There's a lot involved as far as certifying everybody in there. Some are running the race to qualify for like the Iron Man" competition in Hawaii and some may not come.
Heglar said, "I've found six of his competitors. I'm sure any of them would be glad to do it in his home town."
Mayor Lambeth said, "I've been contacted by another charity that may be interested in it."
Heglar said the question for Council is whether or not the Town wants to get involved in such an event.
Swearingen said Council should ask the Parks and Recreation Committee to examine  options.
Keener said he would like the Town to advertise they want other organizations to consider taking on a similar event.
Heglar said in any event the Town makes no direct money. He said, "If you listen to Mr. Scott's vocal minority, they would say we make millions on it which I would disagree with just from talking to business owners."
Town Attorney Andy Canoutas said, "My suggestion would be the Town not get involved in it. If they want to come to the Town Council, let an organization come. That is a proprietary function, not a governmental function."
Councilman Steve Pagley said he'd like the Parks and Recreation Committee to consider proposals from other organizations and bring several to the Council after reviewing requests.
Heglar said a certified letter should be sent to Mr. Scott notifying him of the decision. He noted that Mr. Scott had the opportunity to be at the meeting, but did not attend.
Heglar said, "It will not be reconsidered for 2013. He can come back next year if he wants to do it for 2014."
The Council voted unanimously. Scott previously argued over fees charged for items like police officer hours and vehicles, fire fighter hours, tent inspection fees and others.
The Council sets event fees at budget time for all events wishing to be held in Kure Beach.
Scott said, "I'm going back to the original $3,900 invoice that was changed down to $1,860 of which $240 was disputed." He said the original $3,900 invoice was, "Explained to you folks as a simple accounting error and our contention is it was not a simple accounting error. Our contention is it was intentional."
Scott said if he had not caught the error, the Town would have cashed the check and, " I guarantee you we would not have gotten a credit because of a simple accounting error being found."
The Council took issue with that accusation.